Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The following sermon was given by The Reverend Jill Beimdiek and is published here with her permission. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me. If you feel so moved, please consider sending a generous, tax-deductible gift to the Haitian people via Episcopal Relief & Development ( or to the Society of Saint Margaret ( More information on donations can be found at the bottom.

Please pray with me: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O God. You are our Rock. You are our Redeemer. Amen.

Our Gospel reading this morning [John 2:1-11] is a wonderful story of abundance and transformation. The account of Jesus changing water into wine at the wedding in Cana is found only in John’s Gospel; it is the first of seven “signs” in that Gospel, events that function to reveal something of the person of Jesus that in turn enables others to believe in him. In Jesus’ time, wedding celebrations were commonly spread over several days, even a week, and at this one, the wine has run out. Mary, referred to only as the mother of Jesus, sees the problem, and knowing of her son’s true identity, urges him to make it right, to spare the wedding family the embarrassment of no more wine at a good celebration. Jesus initially demurs: “Woman,” not a disrespectful address, as it may sound to us, “what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” In John’s Gospel Jesus says repeatedly “My hour has not yet come”; he knows from the beginning what will happen to him when his hour does indeed come. At this wedding, though, he does respond, instructing the servants to fill six large stone jars, used for Jewish purification rites, with water, and then he miraculously transforms that water into better wine than had been offered earlier at the wedding celebration.
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Several weeks ago, when I downloaded today’s lections and began my routine of reading and re-reading and praying the lections as preparation for writing this sermon, I wasn’t at all sure what I would do with them. This week, I was struck by the juxtaposition of a story of God’s amazing generosity and abundance and the horrific devastation in Haiti. And Thursday I read an account in the New York Times that made this juxtaposition all the more powerful. Wednesday night in Port-au-Prince, the second night after the earthquake, was described by the reporter this way:

“With no electricity, stars offered the only illumination in the city, which, with its suburbs, is home to nearly 3 million people. For some of those lying on the asphalt or in the parks, cell phones provided a brief glimpse of light.

“Then the singing began. Those gathered outside tents, on lawn chairs, sitting in the middle of empty streets, sang their hymns. One phrase in Creole could be heard repeatedly both inside and outside the hospital walls, as if those voicing the words were trying to make sense of the madness around them.

“’Beni Swa Leternel,’ they sang. ‘Blessed be the Lord.’” (Simon Romero, “Agony Sets in as Medics Focus on Survivors,” NYT on-line 01/14/10)

Friday, January 15, 2010

God's Reflection

One of my resolutions for 2010 was to start attending the mid-week church services more often. Our church offers morning prayer every day at 7:15 AM, but I have yet to actually make it to a single reading. Because we live about 20 minutes away and because there are five school zones between our house and our church, I'd have to get up around 6:15 to be there on time and look half-way decent. Unfortunately, when it's freezing cold and still dark outside, I have a really hard time rolling out of bed. But it's something I'm still working on. I haven't given up yet. Additionally, our church celebrates the Eucharist at noon on Wednesdays and at 5:30 PM on Thursdays. So far I've made it to three of the four mid-week Eucharists this year, and I noticed something very interesting last night.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My Adventures in Breadmaking

Okay so this isn't an actual recipe, since I'm pretty sure that's copyright protected. A good friend of mine bakes her own bread and it is AMAZING. Actually, everything she cooks is amazing. I joke that whenever this particular friend invites you over for dinner (or any event that involves food), you should drop everything immediately and go to her house. Nothing has ever come out of her kitchen that wasn't positively divine, and that includes her cocktails. A few weeks ago, she recommended a breadmaking book to me. I finally picked up a copy last week. "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day"


Friday, January 8, 2010

Use Your Core for Crane

Taken from Yoga Journal's Daily Insight newsletter

Bakasana (Crane Pose), is the most important of all arm balances, since understanding how to do Bakasana lays the foundation for more challenging arm balances. Arm balances are complex, and they reveal how the flexibility and strength that carry newcomers through many poses cannot replace skills mature yoga practitioners develop over years of practice.
Most people who fail at this arm balance have not distributed their weight correctly. The most common mistake students make is lifting their hips so high that their poses are too vertical—they become diving cranes! Some people get their feet off the floor this way, but then their pose becomes very heavy on the arms. Crane Pose performed in this manner avoids the weight shift essential to understanding this asana and evolving into other arm balances.

Instead, feel the abdominal and thigh action that is the for Bakasana. Squat on your tiptoes and bend forward to position your shoulders or upper arms under the shins. Strongly lift your head and chest while pressing the arms back against the shins. Without putting further weight on your arms, and keeping your chest lifted, pull your abdomen in and raise your hips to shoulder level. Though difficult, this action gives you a sense of where the real strength of arm balances comes from.

Suggestions for Bakasana (crane pose)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Michael Pollan Book!

Previous Apron Projects

Here are two of my apron projects from last year. The first is a general fall apron that I used for Thanksgiving and the second is my Christmas apron. I didn't use a pattern for either project, which was both liberating and unfathomably frustrating. But I learn something new from each project, even the ones that don't turn out as expected.

Previous Rosary Projects

These are some pictures of my last two rosary projects. The first is one I made for the little girl we were supposed to adopt. Since I never got to see the baby (and the birthmother and I are NOT on good terms), I'm saving it for our first daughter... whoever she turns out to be.

Challenge Poses for the Quarter

Something I'm looking to try in my yoga practice this year is to challenge myself to learn new, more difficult asanas. So I've decided to select two challenge poses for each quarter of the year. That will give me three months to work specifically on those two poses. If I successfully learn then, GREAT. I'll post pictures. And if I don't, that's okay too. The whole point is to get me out of my comfort zone so I can grow and learn in my practice. Hopefully at the end of the year I will have eight new poses to add to my daily practice repertoire.

The first challenge pose for the January/February/March quarter is Bakasana (aka, "Crane Pose"). This is something I've sort of been working on since November, but not in earnest. I can get into the pose, I just can't keep my balance for very long. I need to develop my upper body strength before I'll be able to master it.

Guided Meditations

Check out the Chopra Center for Wellbeing podcasts on iTunes. You can download them for free (which is awesome) and each guided meditation is only 10-15 minutes long (which is also awesome). Try listening to one in the morning as you start your day, or in the evening as you prepare for bed.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Letting Go and Finding Freedom

A few weeks ago, I found out that I would not be attending medical school next fall. And while this didn't come as much of a surprise, since few out-of-state applicants are accepted at the school to which I'd applied and I was only able to apply to one school due to our impending move with the military, it still threw me for a bit of a loop. Anyone who knows me know that I'm a planner. I plan everything. I make schedules, I plan training routines, I plan our family menus, I've even mapped out what I expect out of my life in the next five to ten years (to include several alternate plans should the first few not work out as I'd planned). To spend a day inside my head is to contemplate all the potential realities for the future and all the alternate realities for the present dependent upon past decisions that I could have made differently. It's quite complex and, frankly, quite exhausting. And I'm coming to realize how completely pointless it all is.